2018 Legislative Changes to the Minnesota Workers' Compensation Act
2018 Legislative Changes to the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act
During the 2018 regular legislative session, the Minnesota Legislature passed a bill that proposed several substantive amendments to the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act. Subsequently, the bill was signed into effect by the Governor on May 20, 2018. The changes, and their practical effect, have been summarized below. Unless otherwise specified, the changes are deemed effective as of June 1, 2018 and will be applicable to employees with dates of injury on or after October 1, 2018.
1. PTSD presumed to be an occupational disease for certain occupations.
Effective January 1, 2019, if, preceding the date of disablement or death, an employee who was employed on active duty in one of the capacities specified below is diagnosed with a mental impairment as defined by Minn. Stat. § 176.011, subd. 15(d), and had not been diagnosed with the mental impairment previously, then the mental impairment is presumptively an occupational disease and shall be presumed to have been due to the nature of employment. Minn. Stat. § 176, subd. 15(e).
A. What constitutes a “mental impairment”?
Pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 176.011, subd. 15(d), “mental impairment” means a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder by a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist, as described in the most recently published edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders by the American Psychiatric Association.
B. When is a “mental impairment” not considered an occupational disease?
The mental impairment is not considered an occupational disease if it results from a disciplinary action, work evaluation, job transfer, layoff, demotion, promotion, termination, retirement, or similar action taken in good faith by the employer.
C. What occupations are affected?
This statutory change will apply to employees who are employed on active duty as: a licensed police officer; a firefighter; a paramedic; an emergency medical technician; a licensed nurse employed to provide emergency medical services outside of a medical facility; a public safety dispatcher; an officer employed by the state or a political subdivision at a corrections, detention, or secure treatment facility; a sheriff or full-time deputy sheriff of any county; or a member of the Minnesota State Patrol.
D. Is the presumption rebuttable?
The amended subdivision provides that, “Any substantial factors that are used to rebut this presumption and that are known to the employer or insurer at the time of the denial of liability shall be communicated to the employee on the denial of liability.” The cited language indicates that the presumption is rebuttable; however, “substantial factors” have not been statutorily defined.
2. Changes to statutorily allotted temporary partial disability benefits.
Under the amended Minn. Stat. § 176.101, subd. 2, temporary partial disability benefits will now be payable for 275 weeks, as opposed to the previous 225. However, for an employee to be entitled to temporary partial disability benefits, they still must have accrued them within 450 weeks of the date of injury.
3. Changes to permanent partial disability payment schedules.
The permanent partial disability schedule multipliers under Minn. Stat. § 176.101, subd. 2A have been increased by 5%. The table below provides the amended 2018 multiplier figures by whole body impairment rating.
4. Permanent total disability retirement presumption age raised to 72 and irrebutabble.
Previously, pursuant to Minn. Stat. 176.101, subd. 4, permanent disability benefits would cease when the employee reached age 67 because the employee would then be presumed retired from the labor market. This was a rebuttable presumption. However, the amended subdivision now states that permanent total disability benefits “shall cease at age 72, except that if an employee is injured after age 67, permanent total disability benefits shall cease after five years of those benefits have been paid.” The legislature specifically repealed the portion of the subdivision that rendered the presumption rebuttable. However, the statutory presumption of retirement contained in Minn. Stat. § 176.101, subd. 8 and the same for MSRS employees under Minn. Stat. § 352.113, subd. 12 are both unchanged and unaffected.
5. Changes to the Medical Fee Schedule.
The Minnesota Legislature effected several amendments to the Medical Fee Schedule applicable for medical services rendered to injured employees on or after October 1, 2018. The finer details of these changes is still being finalized by the Commissioner of the Department of Labor. Below are the most notable and concrete revisions:
· Hospitals with under 100 beds will now be subject to the Medical Fee Schedule. However, the Commissioner must establish a separate conversion factor that will be applied to these facilities, as compared to hospitals with over 100 beds.
· The limitation of the employer’s liability based on the 15% reduction is no longer applicable to ambulatory surgery center (“ASCs”). Minn. Stat. § 176.1365, subd. 1. ASCs are facilities that are: (1) certified as such by the Centers for Medicare or Medicaid Services; or (2) licensed by the Department of Health as a free standing outpatient surgical center and not owned by a hospital. Id. The amount allowable for “covered surgical procedures and ancillary charges” at those facilities is the lesser of the ASC’s usual and customary charge or the Medicare ambulatory surgical center payment multiplied by 3.2. Id. at subd. 2.
· As indicated above, a new hospital outpatient fee schedule, along with corresponding conversion factors, is required to be established by the Commissioner on or before October 1, 2018. Our office is continuing to monitor the pending fee schedule changes in order to stay up-to-date with the most current, applicable Medical Fee Schedule.
6. Treatment Parameters for PTSD.
Pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 176.83, subd. 5, the Commissioner must develop criteria for the treatment of PTSD. These criteria are to be developed through expedited rulemaking process. Our office is also continuing to monitor for changes to the treatment parameters.
7. Filing Changes.
Although not specifically codified in statute, there have been a number of changes to filing procedures. Most notable is the Office of Administrative Hearing’s adoption of an E-Filing system.
Please feel free to contact our office should you have any questions or concerns regarding any of the foregoing. As always, please also contact our office with any other workers’ compensation inquiries.